A nomadic friend of mine told me a story the other day that reminded me of a post that I wrote about embracing the freedom of your twenties. She mentioned that she had recently gone back home to attend her high school reunion this past August. She was a little worried about the event because she was going solo and still had no career to show for herself. She didn’t want to walk into that room and have to answer the same questions over and over again from happy, smiling, fulfilled people as to why she was in her 30s with little to show for a career and no prospects of marriage and family in sight.
She committed to going anyway and, to her surprise, what she experienced was a lot different than she had expected. Instead of getting asked about marriage, kids, and career, her old school mates asked her about her travels and life abroad. Instead of the pitying looks of “poor single and unsuccessful you” that she expected, they crowded around her eagerly; her life was interesting and people wanted to know about it.
After a while, the conversation switched to doing the back to school shopping for their kids. My friend said this exchange summed up the difference in their lifestyles. One mother of three began singing the praises of a sustainable backpack she had found for her children. She even brought up the website on her smartphone, which you can find here, to discuss the various types. As they each ermmed and ahhed and said which ones their children would like, my friend silenced them all by saying she would buy one for herself, as she thought it was perfect for travel and a great way of offsetting her carbon footprint. They stared at each other in realization at the different paths they had chosen in life.
Back to me and my friend: She looked down at her coffee in absorbed contemplation and reflected that, “their life is beautiful. The kids and loving family … it’s great, ” and then she looked up and into my eyes and said, “but my life is beautiful too, and I wouldn’t trade the life that I have had for anything.” It’s 100% true that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you are living life on your terms and loving what you do – whether that’s a nomadic existence of hopping between countries and jobs, or life in a stimulating career with a spouse and three kids – then you are living your life correctly.
I applaud her, and I think that this is a great revelation to have. At some point in your 30s, people expect you to settle down, start paying into your pension, and start planning that spouse, kids, and house. After all, you aren’t in your 20s anymore. But I think that some of us wanderers aren’t built for the settled life, and just because a lifestyle is unconventional, doesn’t mean that it isn’t fulfilling. Your life will always be what you make of it, regardless of what society is telling you to do. I don’t feel I can be myself while sitting behind a desk 9-5, Monday to Friday. I know that. Others do, and that’s great for them. But, even if the life I am living isn’t what others may say is responsible or mature, it doesn’t matter, it’s my life and I’m going to live it to the fullest. In my opinion, out of all of the techniques to live a happy and fulfilled life, the best is to live and let live.